On August 6, 1971 the campers at Saginaw were treated to an awesome display of basketball wizardry by none other than the Harlem Wizards. Originally started in 1962 by Howie Davis, this band of quality college and wannabee NBA players traveled the country entertaining crowds in a basketball lampooning tradition started by the more famous Globetrotters.
Saginaw had a rich tradition of bringing quality basketball talent from Philly, Baltimore, and D.C. to play on “All Star” teams against our counselor basketball team on Monday nights. Over the years this included visits of guys like Wilt Chamberlain, Sonny Kovnat, Reds Guralink, Ben Warley, Jack Marin, Len Elmore, and many more. This Harlem Wizards exhibition was particularly ambitious but Herbie knew a good bargain when he saw one.
As you can see by the event autograph sheet below this organization was still working very close to the vest in it’s formative years. Household basketball names on the Wizards included Sir Ronnie Bishop (Virginia Union U), Earl Christ (N.Y. State), Tojo Henderson (Harlem Globetrotters), and Tex Barnwell (SUNY Broome Tech).
As you can tell from their website, after cutting their teeth on Hill Court, the Harlem Wizards have gone on to bigger and better things, entertaining for local and non-profit groups all around the world.
I know for those of us in attendance that day, except maybe a couple of referees and a few counselors who were their victims, this was a memorable and entertaining display of basketball high jinx and fun.
August 6, 1971